Running performance is a weighty issue

Today’s run (street): 3.6 miles

There’s an article in a recent issue of Running Times that correlates weight and performance. There’s nothing surprising or revelatory in the article, but they make the obvious point that carrying extra pounds will not help your speed. I’ve been exploring every reason why my pace has declined over the last couple of years and have ruled out health issues. After reading this story, I wondered if weight is a factor.

I’ve kept my weight under control over the last six years and I continue to watch my diet. Running 16-20 miles a week certainly helps. Still, I’ve wondered if I’ve become lax in terms of sugar intake and portion control. I hadn’t stepped on a scale in months and decided check to see if I’d gained weight. I hoped that I had because I can deal with that. Just lose a few pounds and go back to 26 minute 5Ks!

I pulled out the scale and saw that I was only 3.5% over my ideal healthy weight. That didn’t provide much opportunity to trade pounds for performance. I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that the only way to improve is to commit to a higher level of training. Running buddy TPP has proven that really works.

I went out this morning for a cold weather run that felt even colder due to strong winds. I spent almost ten minutes waiting for a GPS signal before the watch showed ready. I took off and noticed that I felt a little stronger than usual. However, I didn’t expect a great performance because of the strong winds. The wind chill was in the teens and my face felt frozen.

It wasn’t until I got back home that I realized I’d done my fastest run in months. I was happy to see that, but I’m not exactly sure why. I may start paying a little more attention to my diet and bring that 3.5% down to target. Every little bit helps. Especially for those of us who are happy to stick with their current level of training.

Bethpage run and a surprise in the mail

A Garmin it’s not

Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 4.5 miles

I’m in the middle of some high intensity work related to a new project that’s requiring some focus over the weekend. This morning I felt a lot of pressure to get out early for a run. I needed to be back in time to accomplish some work before shifting gears toward my son’s birthday activities. I couldn’t face another run in the neighborhood, so I went to Bethpage to run the hills.

With my 5K coming up in a week, I have a limited amount of time to train and I wanted to make today’s count. The weather could not have been better and that helped motivate me up the hill toward the start of the newest part of the bike trail. I felt very good and moved along at a decent clip. At least I thought it was decent until the first of many runners passed me like I was standing still. There was an extraordinary number of capable runners this morning and I wondered if there was a low key race going on.

Overall, I was pleased with my performance on the hills and I’d maintained a pretty good pace. Some of that came from running the last mile at my most sustainable speed. I would have liked to cover a another mile today, but I was concerned about staying on schedule.

Yesterday I was surprised to receive the above watch in the mail, the result of my renewing my subscription to Running Times. I didn’t even realize it was coming. I spent many years with a large magazine publisher and I know subscription premiums can be a little chintzy, but his one brings it to new level. The watch seems to work fine (no running features besides a stopwatch) but the metallic bezel is actually “chromed” plastic. But I’m not complaining. After all, I can always use another stopwatch.

The Em-aging Runner

Hail to the ancient runner!
Today’s run (street): 2.5 miles
I’ve finally finished the March issue of Running Times magazine that focused on Masters runners. Masters are competitive runners of a certain age, id est, those of us who can remember when digital watches and VCRs were considered groundbreaking technologies. I found it amusing that one of RT’s coverline kickers was “How aging runners stay motivated.”

Okay, I’m firmly in middle age and I even remember when Lyndon Johnson was president. But aging? A Master’s division runner can be as young as forty and I have not come across too many people in their 40’s who would think of themselves as “aging runners.” The happy truth is that Running Times lists the records of the best Masters race performances of the year. Aging or not, there are some very fast people out there.



I was not feeling like a high performer when I started my run this morning. I stepped outside, felt the chill and hoped a fast start would help warm me up. My spirit was willing but my legs were not and I covered the first mile in about ten minutes. By then I felt increased circulation in my Master’s-aged body and stepped up my pace well enough to finish with a high 9:00 pace. I know I’ll never be a Ken Youngers who, at 53, ran the Peachtree 10K in 34:40 last year. But if I can continue to stay competitive with the “me” from two years ago I’ll know that I’m on the right track.

If I designed elliptical machines

Today’s workout (elliptical): 25 minutes

The latest issue of Running Times came yesterday and my wife told me I’d be excited to see it. One of the main articles was a review of minimalist running shoes that (curiously) included the Karhu Fast 2’s. I’m behind on reading my running magazines but I think this issue may jump to the front of the line. If nothing else, I’m interested in how Running Times views this Karhu model whose high ride seems anything but minimal to me.

The rain from yesterday has headed east but I decided to stay indoors today and cross train on the elliptical. As I went through my workout I thought about a better way to design the machine so that resistance from the upper body poles could be set independently of the lower body setting. The only way to get a decent upper body workout on my machine is to set resistance over 100 watts which means the entire workout feels like you are going uphill while wearing ankle weights. Of course, many would say that a high level of effort is exactly the point of the machine. This may be true but at 4:00 AM all I want is a reasonable cardio workout with some whole body benefit. Listen up elliptical machine manufacturers!